The Cookie Diary

I love desserts, the sweeter, creamier, richer, or more chocolaty, the better. I prefer frosted cakes or cookies with a little something extra. Cookies should be chewy, but not crunchy, and accompanied by cold milk or hot coffee.

My mom was a good cook and I have a very early memory of her decorating a birthday cake for me when I was, perhaps four years old. What I remember about the cake was that the frosting was a satiny white, and she decorated it with a blue border and pink flowers. That was forevermore my favorite birthday cake. Her favorite cake was a white cake with white frosting and covered in coconut. Yum.

I don’t remember her making cookies very often, although I remember her delicate thin sugar cookies at Christmas time, cut out with the red plastic cookie cutters or aluminum cutters that were popular in the 1950’s (perhaps earlier). And she made chocolate and vanilla pinwheel cookies for Christmas as well. I make them too, on occasion, but they are a lot of work. I don’t remember her making any more varieties of Christmas cookies than that, or any large quantities.

My Aunt Millie on the other hand, when we visited her house at Christmas time, the top of her buffet was lined with trays and dishes filled with decorated cookies and chocolate candies, as well as a variety of mixed nuts and mints. I always admired the variety and quantity of the spread she put out. I never did succeed in copying that though, because in my house, the kids and I could eat up the cookies as fast as I could make them. So, there were never batches of anything to lovingly display.

My fascination (read: addiction) for chocolate chip cookies began at a neighbor’s house. Once my mom asked Linda if I could stay with them for a while. While I was there, Linda made chocolate chip cookies, the first I ever remember. Oddly, I don’t remember eating the cookies, but I do remember the making. I remember my first taste of creamed butter and sugar, before adding in the other ingredients, the look of the light brown cookie dough and the chocolate chips being poured from the bag into the bowl and stirred into the dough. I may have been marked for life at that point!

a kindergarten graduation picture of me, 1955
My Kindergarten graduation picture 1955 (not fat, just chubby)

With that brief history of baking, it should come as no surprise that I have struggled with my weight most of my life. I don’t think I was fat in High School, but I probably had about 15 pounds over many of my classmates. My weight went up after my first marriage and I got what turned out to be some bad advice about using salt tablets when I lived in Florida.

If it wasn’t the salt tablets, it was probably mindless eating in response to stress. I did not understand at the time that cake was a poor substitute for coping mechanisms. Truth be told, cake was my coping mechanism. From high school forward, if things were tough, I would bake. But unless you can give the baking away, you eat what you made. One slice at a time.

picture of a cake with fruit on top and white icing on a silver foil base

I have successfully lost major weight (over 40 pounds) twice in the last 34 years, with minor skirmishes up and down the scale at other times. One loss was with a diet my doctor put me on 32 years ago, and then in 2007 I met my goal with Weight Watchers (Now WW). But each time I hit that magic number, I started back up the scale, like a swimmer who has reached one end of the pool and promptly pushes off in the other direction.

Don’t get lost in the forays into honesty, this post is not about diets, or weight loss programs, it is about cookies. Well, cookies and my next favorite treats, most carbs. Although, I started gaining some weight back soon after reaching my goal in 2007, I had still topped off by our move in 2009, to about a 14 pound gain, which I was able to maintain.

picture of some Christmas cookies, mittens with pink icing and decoration
Someone with more patience than I made these for a church cookie sale. They are here as an illustration.

Seriously, I know that it is weight loss that one is supposed to maintain, but over the years I have had better success in maintaining the gains. I had to give up some of my favorite clothes to maintain that gain, but at least it had not all come back. While I was embarrassed bout the gain, I felt pretty good where I was and the clothes I was still able to wear. And then “it” happened.

Now, before I tell you what ‘it” was, let me be clear that I am not blaming my husband for the weight gain that followed in any way, and let me also tell you that he has been in remission, for four years now. But in the fall of 2015, he was diagnosed with a stage 4 cancer that was classified as malignant, and our family doctor told me privately to “prepare myself.”

So began a season where he underwent immunotherapy, with treatment and side-effects that almost killed him, but thankfully did not; and I began a season of self-medicating with carbs. Cookies, bagels, bread, brownies, but especially cookies and bagels.

picture of chocolate kiss blossom cookies in a cookie sale
Cookies that were made for a church cookie sale. No cookies were eaten in the process of writing this post.

Now and then my husband would tell me, “you can eat just one cookie” especially when kind parishioners were gifting us with trays of Christmas cookies. But my cookies like to have friends; anything less than 2 feels like a travesty. Seriously, even on the package of your favorite sandwich cookie, it says that a serving is 2 cookies!

Stronger than the Cookie!

In a conversation with my daughter, sometime during that season, she said to me, “Mom, you are stronger than the cookie!” She is a wise young woman and has done a great job in fostering and encouraging physical activities in her children. She has also worked hard at her own physical condition and has a job that is physically demanding, in addition to being the working mother of three children under 7.

I took her advice and wrote those wise words in a piece of paper and hung them above my computer, “You are stronger than the cookie!” it read. But, not really. I did not put the sign back up after we moved. Still, I managed to maintain my weight at its upper level.

Then, COVID. We have all been on the same planet and world-wide have suffered many of the same struggles, I will not insult you by telling you mine. I will admit, in as forthright a manner possible, that only after things started returning to some normalcy, did the enormity of the amount of cookies and ice cream I managed to inhale during those long weeks dawn on me. Surprisingly, I did not gain weight, just, you know, maintained it.

On June 16th, or maybe the 15th, I was struck by a moment of clarity that amazingly enough, did not come in the form of a medical crisis. In that moment of clarity, I realized the potential disaster I was heading for, and decided to stop doing that to myself.

That simple, and that profound. I have not had a cookie, or a pair of cookies, or a store bought candy bar since June 16th. I have chosen to limit ice cream to a serving every week or every other week.

My biggest surprise in all of this has been that I could eat a regular meal and walk away from the table satisfied. I could go between meals and not be hungry. I have never been that!

I know that some people believe that sugar is addictive and some do not. I haven’t read studies, but I think that I have lived that addiction. This is not me pronouncing myself cured. Since June 16th I have been able to eat meals, and not be ravenously hungry in between. I have lived this cookie life reality for probably 65 years. While I am always happy to have people take the time to read and comment on my posts, I am not asking you to affirm or deny the facts of my confessed experience.

I would like to think that even if it is subtle, that reading the blogging friends who write about health, nutrition, physical fitness and running, have been an influence on my mindset. I appreciate them for it. I have been pretty honest that I am not now, nor have I ever been athletic, but still feel as though I fit in with the group.

I am confident and hopeful, that I can keep on keeping on. I can keep calm and skip the cookie.

And it may be that my daughter was right. With grace, it just may be that I am stronger than the cookie.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

35 thoughts on “The Cookie Diary

  1. I gave up sugar (other than in its fermented form ie wine) a number of years ago so even though I’m a very keen baker I rarely eat the outcome. Bread, though, well, that’s a different thing…and rice, pasta… yep, carbs. You are stronger than the cookie. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jo, Thank you. for reading and comment and sharing. I would like to get to where you are, to bake and not taste or eat. I know that I am no where near strong enough yet. I have a bag of chocolate chips in the freezer and a relatively large bag of chopped pecans I thought I was going to use before COVID hit. They will have to stay put for a while or i will have to give them away.

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  2. I wish I could say that I am stronger than the cookie. Just tonight I told my husband I was craving a cookie. We didn’t have any in the house so I could not eat one. I come from a long line of cookie bakers. My mom and aunts made huge cookie spreads at Christmas. My sister and I regularly made chocolate chip cookies after school. Those pink mitten cookies? They look like a tray I would and have made. I understand the carb/comfort connection. I also do think sugar is addicting. I do better when I choose not to have any. just a bit of sugar opens up need for me and then I want more. It is a constant battle. Sometimes I win, sometimes not.

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  3. Well done on the no cookie or sugar front. I really need to do something similar as I’ve gained weight and I also feel unhealthy. I know I crave it less when I cut it out of my diet as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for those affirming words. Looking back I think the sugar was the reason I was craving sugar and feeling “hungry”, which is probably the reason I can eat a regular meal and not feel hungry a n hour later! Best of luck! I think many people would admit that they have gained extra weight during COVID. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Blessings, Michele

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  4. I’m at the other end of the food spectrum – my weakness is potato chips and hot chips – I just seem to love fried potato and salt! My solution is to not buy it and have it in the cupboard. I treat myself occasionally and the other blessing is that people don’t give you chips as a gift (darn!) so I don’t have a stockpile from birthdays or Christmas. But I definitely know the allure of junk food – and how much better off we are without it – so good on you for holding the line and making such a positive life change.
    #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leanne, thanks for taking the time to read, comment and share your own experience. I meant it when I said that the MLSTL group has had at least a subtle affect/effect on my mindset. I understand the allure of salt, but my husband is salty and I am sweet, in a manner of speaking of course! #MLSTL Michele

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  5. I believe that sugar is addictive. It was TOUGH giving up sugar and, like you, I allow myself an ice cream treat every week or so. One big problem is the sugar is an ingredient in so many things I ate, not only cookies and brownies, but ready-mixed yogurt, cereal, catsup, bread, etc. I was inspired not by weight loss but by high cholesterol. My friend, a biology teacher, told me that eliminating added sugar was the way to lower my cholesterol number. It worked. I desperately wanted to avoid taking a statin every day.

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  6. Thank you! I am pretty sure it is. Cookie sugar first, then I will tackle the labels. My husband has been on insulin for 26 years. He is an extremely careful diabetic and has to count carbs in everything he eats to determine how much insulin he had to take. Writes everything down, a model patient. Not sure I could do as well. Haven’t had the nerve to do bloodwork yet, but my resting heart rate is down 3 points. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Blessings for the weekend. Michele

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  7. Hi Michelle I love your daughter’s advice. I’ve always had a difficult relationship with sweet food and my weight. Over the past few months I have given up chocolate but I do love baking. My partner also loves me baking which doesn’t help, I understand your struggles.

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    1. Didn’t realize I hadn’t responded to your comment. Jennifer, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this “confession”. I appreciate it very much. And thanks for sharing your experience too. Best and blessings, Michele

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  8. I loved this Michele! You are stronger than the cookie – how good is that?? I also laughed at your cookies had friends :). I’m so glad you have managed to curb your intake and might need to take on board your thoughts. All this comfort eating is not good….Thanks so much. #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Debbie, thanks. Stronger than the Cookie. It is probably a rare person who has not gained some weight in the stress of the Pandemic, but those of us who stress eat, or just being home and not getting exercise and the need of comfort. So far, so good, another day without cookies and the sun has still shined! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment #MLSTL Michele

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  9. I have lost and gained and lost again and then gained again 50 or more pounds in the past twenty years. The scale was starting to creep up even farther this past spring so my husband and I both joined WW. We’ve found that we can follow along quite well as long as we have a cheat day each week. If we don’t get that cheat day, then it turns into a cheat month or two! (Did I tell you my husband is a chef and chocolatier?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too Jennifer! I was hoping the post was relatable, I tried to be humorous, but wondered if a friend would ask, Is this a blog or a confessional” WW is a great plan, and last time I checked one of the healthtiest. Good for you both for doing it together. I just started NOOM and am liking it. But with every loss, I think, I have seen this number before, or I haven’t seen this number in x # of years. You are wise to have a cheat day. imo, Feeling and being too deprived can make one depraved! I am splurging on chocolate soft ice cream cones, as long as my favorite drive in ice cream parlor is open, after Labor Day i will have to find another treat. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post. #MLSTL Michele

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  10. It’s interesting to read this. My partner–an alcoholic who’s been sober for more than 40 years–decided a while back that, for her, sugar is like alcohol: She can have none or she can have too much. She’s gone for none, and after a few rough weeks has settled into it comfortably.

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    1. Ellen, thanks again for stopping to read a post and comment. I haven’t gone totally sugar free, but I may never be able to go back to cookies. I know right now the only way I am stronger than the cookie is to not make any or buy any or accept any, except of course on the proverbial cookies on bloggers sites:) Michele

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  11. Hi Michele, I was also an avid cookie eater. Or more honestly a sugar addict. 2020 cured that as I lost my job and with lock down I was very inactive so decided to cut out all refined sugar and chocolate. I feel much better not eating cookies, cakes and everything else. I still crave it, but not enough to give in. I just don’t look at them when I go shopping, and I allow myself all the fresh fruit and vegetables that my body can take. I’m trying not to eat anything made in a factory, and fortunately I don’t have a good oven in which I could make cookies or cakes myself! Sending you strength for your cookie free journey! 🙂

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    1. I remember reading that in your post awhile back. So far, so good. Thank you for the encouraging words. I am working on a follow up post, “lessons learned from my cookie-less life” but it is probably more in my head than on paper at this point. I am 3 posts away from #50. Then I may slow down to one post a week, so I can work on some other writing. The very act of making that commitment might make me prolific enough to come up with the two posts a week I originally intended. Thanks for sending strenght, I am certainly a work in progress. I have had a brownie, but the gave the pan to the friend who had come to dinner. I am definitely a work in progress, but I believe. I believe I can do this. Thanks for sending strength. #StrongerthantheCookie Michele

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  12. Michele, Baked goods, cookies, I am already salivating. VERY cute Kindergarten picture. First time I have heard about salt tablets. I used to be about 50 pounds heavier, so you have hit a sore point in my life. One of the first posts I wrote on my new blog was about removing the scale from my life. It was a life changing experience.

    A huge wow, on Stage 4 cancer. I cannot imagine the challenges and emotions.

    Your daughter did give you some sage advice. The whole weight/eating thing is another world on many levels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you friend. Still “stronger than the cookie” I have a post started on “Lessons Learned in my Cookie-less life.” but need to finish it. I tend to write and read blogs Monday through Wednesday, so always catching up a bit. Working on a writing project with a friend, then Thursdays I hve to turn my attention to the weekend and my sermon, and services. The pull to write is stronger all the time. I love to bake and eat what I make so I am trying to limit any baking for a bit. Fall is coming and I still hve cranberries in the freezer. It’s all about balance, isn’t it? Writing, eating,, life! Blessings for the weekend and as always thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Michele

      Liked by 1 person

  13. My moment came last year when I was diagnosed as being diabetic and put on medication. I made sure that I walked and cut the sugar out and most importantly I learned not to stress myself out. Am happy to say that my sugars have been normal for many months now.

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  14. Thank you Corinne and Congratulations. Not many people have done what you have done. My husband has been diabetic for 32 years (family history) and on insulin for 26 years! He is a very careful about his blood sugar. I am not sure I could have done as well. I am happy that your sugars have been normal great job and thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this post. Best, Micheel

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